Cultivating Friendships: How to Be a Good Friend

Most people walk away from college with a well-rounded education, a diploma, a job (hopefully), perhaps a spouse and definitely a network of lifelong friends. Whether you’re a current student or a 1965 graduate approaching your 50 year reunion, you’re probably nodding and thinking, “Yep. I made some of the best friends of my life in college.”

So what exactly is it about college that makes it the perfect venue to cultivate lifelong friendships? College is a time in life when there is much shaping and molding of students’ values, interests and personalities. These changes are often tough, and the people with whom you experience them become your biggest support system.

We talked with several students and staff members about what qualities they feel build a great friendship. These tips will guide you as you make friends and will help you be a better friend.

  1. Low Maintenance – Sarah Hartsfield, junior business administration major, says that she values friends that truly care about her and her life’s demands. These are friends who wouldn’t make you feel bad if you missed a coffee date, and when you do get together it’s like you were never apart.
  2. Transparency – An honest, trustworthy friend is important to both Andrew Graham, junior art major, and Luke Pennington, senior DMS major. You always need someone to pour your frustrations out to, and not every friend is equipped to handle it. You need someone who can console you, but who can also tell you to get a grip if that’s what you really need.
  3. Support – Graham also points out that you need friends who are going through the same things that you are, because they often provide the support and advice that can help you through common struggles.
  4. Good Listener – This is a big one for a lot of people. Rachel Wukasch, senior family studies major, says friendship is a two-way street, and she values the friends she has that listen when she needs them. She in turn strives to be fully engaged when her friends need her to be the listener.
  5. Trustworthy – Wukasch also notes that a good listener is only really valuable if he or she is also trustworthy. A good confidante won’t spill the beans about your secret crush.
  6. Quality Time – This one is a little different from the others as it’s not a trait, but it is something that helps form a good friendship. Karen Taylor, associate director of student leadership and engagement, says that whether you spend quality time together once a week or once a year, that quality time helps you build memories and establishes a long-term relationship.
  7. Accountability – How many times have you tried to form a habit such as eating more vegetables or daily Bible reading, only to quit after a week? This is where your friends come in. Jared Dauenhauer, assistant director of student leadership and engagement, values the friends in his life that challenge him and keep him accountable. He admits that his wife is a master at this. She is constantly pushing him to be better. He added that understanding each other’s personality and sensibility helps because you instinctively know when to push and when to lay off.

We’ll leave you with a simple slideshow. In it you’ll see alumni and current students with their friends from college, some of whom have been friends for decades now. As Morgan Kroeger, senior accounting major, put it, “Friendship is celebrating every birthday, Christmas, or simple moments together. Friendship is made in the classroom through lab partners or on the sidelines cheering each other on.” We couldn’t agree more!

We’d love to hear from you about your college friendships. Are you still in touch with the friends you made at Union University?

Lady Bulldogs to Host NCAA Div II Tournament Games

Congratulations to the Lady Bulldogs, who captured their first Gulf South Conference title and earned a No. 1 seed in the South Region of the NCAA Division II Women’s Basketball National Tournament. As the top seed, Union will host the entire South Region, with the Lady Bulldogs taking on No. 8 seed Albany State this Friday, March 13, at 5 p.m.

We would love to see the Fred Delay Gymnasium full of fans and students. To help us fill it up, use #fillthefred on social media to promote the game. Fans not able to attend the tournament in person can watch or listen to the game online.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, earned an at-large bid to the South Region of the national tournament in Lakeland, Florida. This will mark Union’s first appearance in the NCAA National Tournament since the 1968 season. Union, the No. 7 seed, will face No. 2 seed Barry University on Saturday, March 14, at 2:30 p.m. Watch or listen to the game online.

Go Bulldogs!

The Lady Bulldogs after their Gulf South Conference tournament win

The Bulldogs kicking off the season at Bulldog Madness

Union University in Italy: Trip Report

In mid-January 2015, 17 Union University students and faculty sponsors Steve Halla (Art) and Gavin Richardson (English) spent 11 days touring the artistic, literary, and historical sites of Italy. Supplemented by reading assignments and written coursework, the study tour allowed Union students to earn up to seven hours of UU credit in world literature, arts in western civilization, and fitness. Highlights included a visit to the Roman Coliseum, a climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a rainy walk through Pompeii, a tour of the Uffizi art museum in Florence, and the Doge’s Palace in Venice.

Faculty co-sponsor Gavin Richardson said, “The study tour was great and the students were great. We had a few chilly days, but the advantage of going to Italy in January is that there were virtually no crowds. Students could get within a few feet of works by Botticelli and Michelangelo in the Uffizi, and our tours of some of the fifth- and sixth-century mosaics in Ravenna were virtually private.”

Plans are underway to return to Italy in January 2016, with a potential overnight in Naples, as well as a day trip to Assisi and the Roman catacombs. For more information, students should contact Gavin Richardson ( and “like” the UU in Italy Facebook page. Spring informational sessions will be announced soon.  

Photos below submitted by students and professors

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DIY Pegboard Organization System for College Students

Using pegboard for storage is certainly not a new concept. Any of you with an enclosed garage or work shed probably have it all over the place. But did you ever think to use it for dorm storage? It’s a great way to get items off your desk and on the walls to efficiently utilize a small living space! While Union University is known for having some of the nicest and largest resident apartments and individual rooms for students, adjusting to apartment life is still a challenge. Using good storage techniques is the key to containing clutter.

In this step-by-step tutorial, we’ll show you how to make a simple pegboard storage system for about $35, not including the items you’re storing. The great thing about this system is that it can be totally personalized.

Materials for the project, list below.


  • Empty frame ($5-10. We rescued ours from the dumpster, but you can usually find cheap frames at thrift stores)
  • Pegboard cut to frame size ($8)
  • Pegboard organizer kit ($12, it is more cost effective to buy a kit, even if you don’t use all the pieces)
  • Paint ($3 – use spray paint, not what we have pictured)
  • Stencil (free if you make your own)

One of the things we discovered after starting this project was that the surface of the coated pegboard doesn’t take regular paint. It peeled right off! Spray paint worked just fine, though, plus it’s cheaper.

Pegboard fixed into the frame

Start your project by fitting your pegboard piece into your frame. Ours was cut just a tad too big, so we sanded down the edges to fit. If your pegboard is 3/16″ thickness, you should have room to secure it with the frame’s built in tabs.

pegboardframe_unionuniversity_3 pegboardframe_unionuniversity_4

We had a paw print stencil handy, so that’s what we used to add a little pop of color to the pegboard. We sprayed it on at an angle so that it can be used vertically and horizontally. Another good idea would be a stencil with the first letter of your name. Or you could leave the pegboard one color and pick a colorful frame. There are so many possibilities!

pegboardframe_unionuniversity_5 pegboardframe_unionuniversity_6As you can see, the spray paint got away from us a little, but that adds character, right? Right. Once you have your pegboard ready, lay out your organization kit pieces and decide what you want to use. The trays and jars are great for things like paper clips, pushpins, rubber bands, etc. Another great idea would be to use one of the hooks for your keys, especially if you hang your pegboard near your door.

Pegboard in a picture frame, perfect for dorm room storage.

Below is a list of items you could include that might be handy in your dorm room:

  • scissors
  • duct/packing/scotch tape
  • paper/binder clips
  • pens/highlighters
  • a hammer
  • post-it notepad
  • ruler
  • pliers
  • headphones
  • hand sanitizer
  • stapler

There are probably many more things that you could include, especially if you get creative. We hope this is a helpful tip for your dorm room organization. We had a lot of fun making it, and now we’re going to give it away! Check our Facebook page for more information. The winner will be chosen on March 6, 2015.

Campus Under Ice and Snow

A residence hall in the snow.

Post by Kristi Woody, photographer and social media coordinator

As a student, I am certain that this week would have been something I could only dream about. Three days out of class and perfect sledding conditions? What more could a college student ask for?! As an employee, however, I’ve had a different reaction to our recent wintery situation. I can only handle so many days of what I call the “couch potato life,” and two days is my threshold. By Wednesday, I was ready to get out! Unfortunately my dead car battery had other plans. I talked my friend and coworker Sarah Belcher, graphic design specialist here at Union, into picking me up a little ways outside of my neighborhood, and we trekked over to campus. The main roads were clear, so we had no trouble. We spent some time walking around the Great Lawn area for me to take photos of the campus with a blanket of snow on it. It was just such a relief to be out of the house and looking at something other than an HGTV Property Brothers marathon! The time off really made me appreciate the environment that I work in here at Union. This is a place that I look forward to coming to each morning, not only for the work that I do, but for the people I’m surrounded by in this Godly place. It doesn’t hurt that it looks so lovely covered in snow!

I hope you all enjoy these photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. Oh and, spring, if you’re listening, come quickly!

You can also browse the photos that our followers posted on Twitter and Instagram by searching the hashtag #UUicedin

The fountain area in the snow Ice on Miller Tower Students make their way across campus with makeshift sleds Miller Tower on a winter day The great lawn in the snow White Hall in the snow Miller Tower in the snow

First Year at UU – The Long Winter Break

Josiah Murphy headshot

Post by Josiah Murphy, freshman broadcast journalism major

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed awhile ago and came across a tweet by @CollegeStudent that said, College makes you appreciate home, home makes you appreciate college.Now that I have just finished Christmas break and am two weeks into the spring semester, I have a new appreciation for that quote.

After the conclusion of finals last semester, I was ready to go home, see my family, catch up on some much needed sleep, and eat a home cooked meal. While on break I also had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and to work. It is really easy to become disconnected from my family being eight hours away at college, so the long break gave me the opportunity to catch up on everything that had happened while I was gone.

During the month of January, Union has an optional J-Term which allows students to live on campus and take accelerated courses. This is helpful if you dont have enough credit hours to graduate on time or to get ahead and help you graduate early. If you choose not participate in J-Term, then you get a nearly two-month-long break.

However, the downside to having such a long break is you start to miss your friends. I have made so many solid friendships here at Union that not seeing those friends for two months is almost torture. Living with your friends allows you to develop deep relationships very quickly. Whenever you want to hang out with someone, all you have to do is take a quick walk over to his or her room (if he or she doesnt live with you). Though I greatly enjoyed my time at home, I realized how much my new friends meant to me.

As you begin your last semester of high school, I encourage you to finish strong. You have a lot to look forward to in college, but dont let it distract you from the task at hand. Know that many of us here at Union are praying for you and your decision, and we hope to see you on campus next fall!


Photo by Victor Miller, student photographer

Mark Campbell Reaches 500 Career Wins

Team photo from Mark Campbell's first year as head coach

Mark Campbell, far right, in his first team photo as head women’s basketball coach.

Mark Campbell has been head women’s basketball coach at Union University for 15 seasons and has time and time again proven his merits as a coach. If asked about his achievements, he credits his assistant coaches and players more than himself. This humble, team-centered attitude is at the root of what makes him a great coach, and last night was an important milestone for him. The 77-66 victory over Valdosta State marked his 500th career win. Check out for more on this story and Mark Campbell’s career.

Photos below are from the game against Valdosta State.

Mark Campbell talks with a player during the gameMark Campbell cheers during a game Mark Campbell watches the action unfold from the bench Mark Campbell yells out a play Mark Campbell watches the intense action under the goal Mark Campbell and players during a timeout Mark Campbell yells plays from the sideline Mark Campbell instructs players Mark Campbell discusses the game after the win Mark Campbell celebrates with the players in the locker room

Mandy White: ‘When I walked onto campus, I felt at home’

Mandy White headshotMandy White had recently graduated from Union in 1998 and was looking for work. She was babysitting for a sorority sister, who informed her about a temp job at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.

“Might as well,” White thought to herself. “I need a job.”

Sixteen and a half years later, White is still with the organization. Her temp job became a permanent administrative assistant job. From there she moved through the ranks as a coordinator, manager and vice president before becoming the Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development.

“I don’t think there’s a better place to become assimilated into a community than the Chamber of Commerce,” White says. “My role is to sell Jackson and Madison County to industrial companies looking at either locating a new operation somewhere or expanding.”

A native of Ashland City, Tennessee, economic development wasn’t in her plans when she came to Union. She majored in psychology, graduating in 1998.

“Union was the only college to which I applied,” White says. “I knew when I walked onto campus, I felt at home.”

White says Union provided her a tremendous amount of leadership opportunities through the Greek system and other student organizations. Since she didn’t know anyone when she began as a student, White had to learn how to network.

“Through those leadership roles, through the activities on campus, that helped prepare me for what I do every day now,” she says. “I talk with people every day that I don’t know.”

White originally planned to work for a social service nonprofit, because she enjoys helping people and giving back to the community. While that wasn’t where her path led, she still finds her work in economic development rewarding.

“When I drive by a plant and see a car sitting out there, and I know I might have had a little to do with creating that job and that disposable income for that family, that’s just as fulfilling as what I thought I might have ended up doing,” she says.

Mandy chats with a colleague at the Chamber Mandy works at her desk at the Chamber

Residence Life Team Makes January Term Exciting for Students

With January term coming to a close at the end of this week, we thought we’d re-cap some of the events that took place this month. J-term, like our summer terms, lasts only one month. Students usually take one or two classes, and cram the lecture time, studying and essay writing into one month. It’s an incredibly smart way to get extra credits out of the way, but it’s hard work.

Luckily for the on-campus students, Residence Life puts in some hard work as well! The res-life team organized events for each Thursday evening to give students a chance to take a break and have fun. The first event was the ping pong tournament, followed by a Bunko tournament and finally a Union University version of The Amazing Race, which took students all over campus hunting for clues.

Photos below are from all three events, starting with the ping pong tournament. Thanks for all your hard work, Residence Life!

Ping Pong paddles ready to go for the Res-life tournamentTim Call welcomes ping pong players and spectators to the tournament

Students participate in a ping pong tournament in the Bowld Commons

Students participate in a ping pong tournament in the Bowld Commons Students participate in a Ping Pong tournament in the Bowld Student Commons. Students watch and keep score for the Ping Pong tournament in the Bowld.

The next set of photos is from the Bunko tournament

Students play Bunko in the Bowld Student Commons gym Students play Bunko in the Bowld Student Commons gym Students play Bunko in the Bowld Student Commons gym One of the Bunko tournaments set up and ready for players Students play Bunko in the Bowld Student Commons gym Students play Bunko in the Bowld Student Commons gym Students play Bunko in the Bowld Student Commons gym

Finally, The Amazing Race. RAs were stationed all over campus, equipped with challenges for the teams and clues for the next location. Challenges included burpees, finding gum in a whipped cream pie and blowing a bubble with it (without using your hands), solving a math problem and retrieving a brick from the bottom of the pool. The students went all out on the challenges, and it was impressive how quickly they solved the clues to find the next challenge location!

Kayla McKinney lays out the rules of the Amazing Race game that took students all over campus. One team gets their clue for the next location in the Amazing Race game around campus. A student completes a physical challenge for the Amazing Race on campus Students complete a challenge during the Amazing Race event Students complete a quiz for a challenge in the Amazing Race game A team tries to solve a riddle in the Amazing Race game on campus A student dives into the pool for the last challenge of the Amazing Race.

Christmas with the Olivers

Each generation of students seems to create its own traditions, most likely brought on by changes in what’s considered “cool.” However, there are some traditions that rise above the cultural shifts and remain solid from year to year. One of those generation-spanning traditions is the reading of the Christmas story by the president. This year was the 18th time this event has occurred, but the first time it was called Christmas with the Olivers.

Christmas with the Olivers took place in the McAfee Commons, which was decorated with lights and stocked with plenty of cookies and hot cocoa. Students piled onto the couches, chairs and even the floor as Dr. Dub and Susie made their way in. To start off Dr. Dub asked students to share a few of their favorite Christmas traditions, which ranged from cooking special dishes to adding a new ornament to the tree with family. Next the entire group joined in singing a few carols such as Deck the Halls and The First Noel. Dr. Dub then took a minute to document the crowd (he tweeted the photo later). To wrap up the evening Dr. Dub read both The Night Before Christmas and Luke 2, followed by another carol, Silent Night, during which everyone gathered closely together and locked arms. It was a truly special evening, where students were able to celebrate Christmas with the president and first lady.

Dr. Dub speaking to residence life employees before the event

Students gathered in the commons to fellowship with the president and first lady

Dr. Dub chatting with students before the Christmas Story.

Dr. Dub leads in some Christmas Carols.

Dr. Dub and Susie singing carols with students.

Susie Oliver, first lady of Union, singing carols with students.

Dr. Dub leaning back to get a photo of the crowd of students in the commons.

Dr. Dub reading A Night Before Christmas.

Dr. Dub reading A Night Before Christmas

Hot chocolate mugs resting on the table by the president.

Dr. Dub reading Night Before Christmas.

Dr. Dub reading a passage from Luke 2.

Dr. Dub and Susie singing one final carol with students.

Dr. Dub and Susie standing in a circle with students singing a Christmas song.